I'm not someone who has ever considered themselves suicidal. I never wanted to kill myself, though I would occasionally daydream about life if I wasn't living. You know, who would come to my funeral, what worries would be alleviated, what bills would still have to be paid. Sometimes even how much it would hurt to die. But I never found myself actually driving into oncoming traffic or doing any other risky sort of behavior. And every time, it came down to how selfish I would be if I actually did it.
Who has the money to bury me? Who has the time to deal with the pain my passing would cause? Who knows the effect losing me would have on people for years to come?
I stayed alive because I didn't want to be a burden to anyone in death. And so far, I'm still here. So clearly, it must be working. It must be the best solution.
Staying alive for other people means you're not living your life. You're not here because you want to be here, you're here because other people want you to be. And sort of like the transition from high school to college. When you go to school/class because your parents make you, or do your work only because you're made to, when you have the option or opportunity to make the decision on your own, most likely, you won't do it.
How many of us failed a class (or three) our first year of college? Having that freedom of choice had many of us floundering. Life is the same way. If we are living for the purpose of pleasing others, or because it feels like something that we're just supposed to do, when given that freedom of choice, some people may very well choose to end their lives. We've seen it countless times. After a parent dies, the child soon follows. After a lover passes, their significant other succumbs to suicidal thoughts.
Now, I’m not advocating suicide or that you shouldn't find meaning in bringing the gift of your presence to others. But I feel it's crucial to find meaning in yourself. To find joy and meaning in things that are unique to you. I for example, know that for all the nightmares I have around pregnancy, I most definitely want to have children. I know that I can't have children, I can't squish their little faces, I can't hear my child's first words, I can't excitedly watch them take their first steps or graduate kindergarten, or go to prom...if I’m not here.
I can't experience the joy and sorrow in marriage if I'm not alive. I can't explode in laughter at the newest viral meme. I can't spend hours diving deeper into the wormhole that is Wikipedia. I can't marvel at my good fortune when the temperature hits 90 degrees on a Pacific Northwest summer day, and I can't curse the gods of weather when on that same day, I scorch my leg on a leather car seat.
As much as I know my mother will miss me, as much as I know my passing would affect those in my life, I can't stay just for them. It has to be about me. Don’t let other people be the reason you stay alive, because you'll find yourself unhappy time and time again when people fail you. Or, when you fail them (if you're anything like me). I've learned that when it's all said and done, I’m really all I have. And that should be enough.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Please take the time to seek out help if you or someone you know is struggling with this issue.
If you are feeling consumed by suicidal thoughts or emotions, and/or additional resources are needed, please feel free to contact your local/national suicide crisis hotline. If you're in the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 1 (800) 273-8255. In Nigeria and other countries, dial 800 5555 5522. If phone calls aren't manageable, there are online chatlines to help as well. For online chats, please visit this site (in the United States) or this one (outside the US) for more specific and localized information.